September 25th, 2012
Our first camp is beautiful. Stan and I set our tent up in a small clearing away from the porters hut. The porters use wood for their cooking fires and it tends to get really smoky if you camp nearby. After setting up camp we took a nap then found a water supply and Stan filtered water for cooking. Dinner was great! We had chicken and dumplings with apple-blueberry cobbler for dessert. The views of Kili poking through the clouds at sunset, are breathtaking! It sure does look far away from here.
August 14 -15, Shira Hut
We broke camp early after a good breakfast. The trail was steep for the first hour and a half then became more gradual. This trail is one of the most beautiful, with spectacular vegetation. The misty clouds surrounding us gave it a surreal feeling. After three and a half hours we got to the plateau area where the Shira hut is located. Kili looms largely in the background. As all mountains do, it looks immense to us. Really not as much snow as I thought but the glaciers are clearly visible. We ate lunch then set up camp. We’ll be here a two nights, to acclimatize, so we set up on a nice sight. Tonight we started taking ½ Diamox tablets for altitude sickness. We both feel great so far. The next day we hiked around, which is great exercise at altitude. Once the fog cleared, we had a great view of the Shira Plateau. It’s still windy today but the sky is crystal clear with clouds down below us. Wilson told us that the porters had gone to get firewood and disturbed a buffalo. They ran away from him and decided to look in the opposite direction for the wood. I could just imagine those wild looking porters running like mad from a snorting buffalo. That would have been priceless to watch. All the cooking is done over open fires so they really tear up the environment searching for the wood. They break the wood by hitting it on the rocks!
August 16, Lava Tower
Up at 6:45am, packed and ate breakfast. Really a beautiful hike, the temperatures are very tolerable while hiking. After lunch hiked to the Lava Tower. There was another group already here. A French group of 18 men and women all around 50 to 60 years old. They were moving to the Arrow glacier camp. It’s located a bit higher but less sheltered. We really should have spent last night here and tonight at Arrow glacier. The catch is that there are no tents or shelter for the guides and porters. We quickly set up camp and fixed lunch. A short hike in the afternoon took us up to the glacier. The trail is steep in sections and lots of scree.
It reminded me of a huge Canaletta. Oh No!! We hiked for an hour, which brought us to 4955m. (16,351 feet) The campsite looked good here. We looked around at the route above but the clouds were coming in so we descended.
Wilson reminded us to tip him and I told him not to talk about it anymore because it wasn’t polite. We are going to sleep early tonight, because summit day tomorrow. We had a good appetite with only a slight headache. Wilson got on my nerves about tipping again so I told him off. We will leave for the summit at 5am. The other group is going to leave at 2am from the glacier.
August 17, Summit Day
Wilson woke us up at 4am. Both Stan and I set alarms but we slept right through them. Since we are traversing the mountain we have to have everything packed up. It was cold but not too bad. I wore expedition weight underwear, Goretex bibs, pile coat and a Goretex jacket. In my daypack I had my down pants, water and food. The route was steep the entire way. Actually we did make good time.
It was like the Canaletta only worse. There is much rock climbing today. This is no “wheel-chair” route! I got cold half way up though I kept drinking water. We took a ½ a Diamox and a Decadron this morning before we left. I drank all 1 ½ liters in the climb and ran out during the descent.